There’s Hope – Keep Pursuing Your Goals
In the process of reaching your goals, you are sure to encounter a season where it feels like nothing is happening; zilch, nada! Even if you started out enthusiastically, it’s not uncommon to get discouraged when the going gets tough!
Think of it this way, your goal is like a 1000-piece puzzle just waiting to be assembled.
Puzzles are one of the ways I enjoy unwinding. I relish the challenge of a new puzzle. This past Christmas I was extra blessed – I didn’t receive one new puzzle, I received four! It’s been a whole lot of fun working on them in my spare time.
Last night, I put the last piece into the second of my new puzzles. This puzzle was extra challenging. In fact, it took me until nearly the end to determine the right placement of some of the edge pieces. Many of the pieces looked nearly identical so knowing which one was the right one was no easy task. And even stranger, there was an extra surprise when it was all done – a leftover piece! I’ve never had that happen before!
This wasn’t the first difficult puzzle I’ve attempted to put together. One specific puzzle comes to mind. A good bit of the puzzle was sky with very little variation. Perhaps you’ve tackled a puzzle like it that contained a stretch of water, an abundance of puppy fur or a great big mass of yellow flowers. It requires extreme patience, focus, and a keen eye to complete puzzle like that. Only truly committed puzzlers will persist through the “blue sky” phase to complete the puzzle.
You Know the Goal
You aren’t confused about what you are shooting for in the same way you know what the puzzle is supposed to look like – it’s pictured on the lid.
The first steps to pursuing your goal are easy. It’s like searching for the edge pieces. Most of the time the border goes together with ease.
You may even see a few obvious ways to tackle your goals just like there are a few obvious parts to the puzzle initially.
Then comes the hard part! Continuing to take action towards your goals when it feels like nothing is working or when the progress is painfully slow! Maybe you don’t even know what to do next! It’s easy for frustration to set in.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
1. Don’t Give Up!
One thing I know for sure: when assembling a puzzle, giving up when the going is hard and the progress is slow never leads to completing the puzzle. It’s the dedicated sticking to it and continuing to put the pieces together that eventually enables me to complete the task!
The same is true with goals! There will come a point when you will want to give up. You might feel like you’ve exhausted all the options. You might convince yourself the goal isn’t that big of a deal. However, there’s so much to be gained if you’re willing to keep on going even when it feels pointless.
In truth, it’s the difficulty that makes reaching your goal extra sweet!
That sweet reward doesn’t just apply to goals, it also applies to…
- Difficult situations
- Navigating challenging seasons
- Facing unexpected hardships
- Entering the unknown
- Moments that don’t go according to plan!
Working a puzzle offers immediate visual evidence of your progress. When it comes to your goals or a difficult situation you can’t always see exactly where you are in the process. And it’s more difficult to identify the “pieces” that need to be in place. I think God likes it that way! It forces you to depended on Him.
Remember, it’s better to do something, than to do nothing! The surest way to NOT reach your goal is to give up!
2. Keep Your Focus on Your Why
Maintaining enthusiasm over the long haul isn’t easy. Over time enthusiasm dwindles. That’s why it’s imperative that you keep your focus on your “why.” Here’s what I mean:
The goal of…
- Losing 20 pounds isn’t going to carry you through when going gets hard.
- Adding 25 clients won’t excite you to action when your efforts don’t seem to be paying off
- The desire for a promotion while fade when you are passed over again
There are endless examples I could share, but you get the idea. Any excitement you had initially will ultimately wane. That’s why focusing on the “why” is more motivating. Here’s what I mean:
- Fitting into that favorite dress for that special occasion – that’s the why behind the losing the 20 pounds.
- The inexpiable desire to help others using your gifts, skills, and experiences – that’s what will keep you going and enable you to attract clients.
- Seeking to take on more responsibility at work so that you can provide for your family – now that’s powerful! That will enable you to see the opportunities to prove yourself and to see what needs to change to make a promotion a reality!
So, what’s your “why” and what would make your “why” even more compelling?
3. Honor Your Edges
Imagine trying to put a puzzle together without any edges. It‘s possible, but having a clear outline certainly simplifies the process. And who wants to make the process harder than it has to be?
When it comes to your goals and the challenges you face in life, are you aware of your edges and are you honoring them?
What do I mean by edges? Are you aware of and honoring your…
- Top 5 values
- Limits in this season – remember, you need a rhythm of margin and rest to operate at your best!
- Who God created you to BE
- Your present priorities
You see, trying to be something you aren’t, striving, stressing, and extending yourself more than you should – that’s a recipe for feeling overwhelmed! Remain in that mode for any length of time and you will find yourself burned out!
It seems counter intuitive, but sticking with your values no matter what, maintaining your limits even when you are tempted to work, work, work, living in who God created you to BE, and sticking to your priorities is more likely to get you the results you are after! It forces you to work smarter not harder; to be more creative and resourceful.
4. Try Something New
There are a thousand plus ways to successfully reach a goal. Sometimes what worked before won’t work now. If what you are doing isn’t working, it’s time to try something new; time to get creative!
Just like it took Edison more than a few tries to create the light bulb, it often takes a few different attempts to successfully reach your goals. It’s time to try brainstorming, reading books or blog posts, talking with experts, or working with a coach. Those are all powerful ways to redirect yourself and work through the “blue sky’ part of the process.
5. Press In
God already knows you are struggling and uncertain about what to do next to achieve the goals He’s given you. He wants you to know how much He loves you and that it’s OK to bring your frustrations and needs to Him. When you are dependent on Him and obedient, He’s glorified. He wants you to grow so that you are prepared for what’s next after you’ve achieved your goal.
If you aren’t in a “blue sky” season right now, you probably will be soon. It‘s not something to be avoided, but rather a stage to be embraced. It often feels like an eternity, but it will end. And when it does, you’ll discover that your faith is deeper, your character has been developed, and that you’ve stretched yourself in significant ways.
Best of all, you will have achieved what you set out to do!
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)
Where have you experienced the “blue sky” phenomenon?
What have you learned along the way?
© Can Stock Photo / lucidwaters
Great article Marvae. I find that my long-term goals can be the most difficult to press into because it seems like whittling away at something that never seems to budge. But I’ve learned to try to discipline myself to realize that every big goal is made up of a bunch of tiny choices to put time into it, and eventually I’ll cross the finish line. Thanks for the encouragement to keep going!
Great to hear from you Dustin! Yes, the long term or really BIG goals can be more challenging and it is your tiny choices that all add up! You are doing amazing work – keep at it!